Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fishtown: Razing a Church

Things change.

My Fishtown and surrounding neighborhoods are changing. Much new construction took place and many proposals for additional construction, most of all houses and a few defined businesses, continue to surface for community approval or disapproval. The effect of this has produced overwhelming favorable approval but it has also had a harsh impact on those with lesser financial means and stability which displaced many: renters and ballooning property taxes.These unfortunate people were not, in general, actively considered by the community and it's organizations. Community development loss sight of the human condition with a very narrow view of what improvement means; especially inclusion for all.
Resistance to such inclusion is strong as evident by a city wide gross lack of planning for low income housing and healthful social service. The cry includes rants and scare tactics about having so called undesirable people in the community and the lowering of property value. Views of inclusion and development compromise is near routinely marginalized or dismissed.
It's an insult. It discourages the community to foster actionable proactive planning in the community.
I was also moved by the related action of razing the former Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ at Marlborough and Belgrade streets for new house construction. A lack of patience is so subtle to try to preserve such an unique 1841 architectural design from being demolished.
It's probably one of the earliest examples of Italianate architecture for a church in Philadelphia (most other churches from that era were neo-classical or late federalist style).*
Now it's much too late. A (prima facie) historic neighborhood landmark structure will be lost and also a part of our heritage. I'm very concerned that there's more to follow in the name of progress.

point of view opinion and photos by roman blazic_all rights reserved


  1. Upsetting the apple cart again. No one wants to hear this because they would have to re-evaluate the fact that they are not proactive.

  2. An increase in property value, but a decrease in enduring quality. "These older buildings need allot of work, work that takes time and effort. What do you expect for $400-800,000?" However, the one "good thing" about these new buildings is that "they will never need to be repaired…" Why? In almost every specimen of these expensive, new buildings, a complete and likely comprehensive overhaul of its material surfaces will be required every few decades (that’s a generous projection). These designs and the associated materials are not meant to age, and are not repairable, they are only replaceable. So that most of these people are paying top price for something that has no enduring and/or renewable quality. Almost every piece of building fabric being put up in Kensington and the Northern Liberties, with a few exceptions, will within my lifetime be put into a dumpster. Maybe these materials are "recyclable"--but will they actually be recycled? The answer is probably no. The new urbanite worships smaller spaces, urban life, and everything "green," yet not a soul makes a peep, as one after another of the neighborhood's attractive, character-defining, interesting, and, most importantly, renewable buildings are demolished as quickly as possible and thrown away, often after up to 200 years of use. If the second half of the twentieth century has proved one thing, it’s that HOMOGENY is perhaps one of the most profitable endeavors.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Now I won't be the only person that Fishtown screams at.
      I like your web site.